Lean Muscle Body: How to Train and What to Eat?

November 18, 2022

Defined, lean, muscular, and even sculpted. These are the different body categories in the field of bodybuilding and fitness. The common characteristic of all of them is that they are hard-working physiques, requiring hours of intense work. 


In the middle of the spectrum, we find the lean body, which corresponds to the canons of the nicely shaped muscles of people concerned about their physical appearance. 

What is a lean or fibrous body?

A lean body in men is marked by a slender physique with a certain level of muscle, but far from the standard associated with bodybuilders. 

On the athletic body scale, the lean body is somewhere in the middle, leaving the bodybuilder's own body for the sculpted category.

For a long time, the trend was to gain muscle mass and volume to achieve a lot of definition, especially in the arms. Nowadays, it is the intermediate stages that prevail. 

People with this type of body give a lot of prominence to their biceps and abs. The famous abs already appear in these physiques, although they are not the main attraction. 

The arms and biceps are also very noticeable, and the lower body is also defined but not particularly large.

The designation lean refers to clearly defined but not bulky muscles. There is a lot of muscle tone, but they are not bodies that are overly surprising for their power level. 

The lean body in women responds to a similar dynamic, but with the difference that they do not reach such an ostentatious volume as men. 

Nowadays, many girls seek to mark obliques and abdomen, thus adding these areas to the triceps, buttocks, and legs as the most worked areas.

In this case, getting a lean body goes hand in hand with achieving a balance throughout the silhouette, which leads to defining the legs, having turned shoulders, and marking the pectoral area, defined back, and the already mentioned arms, triceps, and abs.

Difference between a lean body and a bulky body

The bulky body is the next step in the evolution of definition. This is where very ambitious goals come into play. The greater volume is mainly visible in the shoulders, neck, and deltoids. At the same time, the lower part of the body is super-defined. 

One of the main differences between a muscular and lean body is that the pectorals are bigger in the first case. Muscles are always noticeable, even with clothes on. The abdominals, although important and very visible, are not the area of the body that is most defined.

The arms, on the other hand, are large in both types of physiques but are more visible in a bulky body. 

How to get a lean body?

To clarify (in case there was any doubt), to show off a lean body, you will first have to have or work the muscle volume and resort to a proper diet for it because there has to be a 'base' to sculpt.

Now we come to the vital moment, how to have a sculpted and marked body? The key is to find the right balance between intensity in training sessions with adequate recovery times between sets, respect the rest times from one training session to another, and a proper diet high in carbohydrates and proteins, as we will see in the following sections.

In terms of training, improving the physique to achieve a lean body involves working on cardiovascular capacity, intensifying muscular work to gain strength, and achieving flexibility and agility in the muscles.

Nutrition: what to eat to gain a lean body?

Compound carbohydrates are essential for brain and central nervous system development. Namely: broccoli, artichokes, zucchini, spinach, whole-grain flours, potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, legumes such as lentils or beans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, bananas, pears, or avocado, among other foods.

A commitment to complete restriction causes muscle mass burn as an energy source. In this sense, the secret is to get the right balance of these nutrients in the morning and after training.

Another tip to get a lean body through diet is to incorporate healthy fats in a balanced way, as they help control hunger. The foods that you should ingest are olive oil, fatty fish (especially salmon), avocado, seeds, nuts, eggs, and milk.

A last dietary recommendation is to swap fruits for vegetables, due to their low sugar content. Fruits are highly recommended in any balanced diet, but their excess sugars take away from the final goal. With vegetables, the necessary nutrients and antioxidants are maintained, while reducing the amount of calories consumed.

Training routine

Defined bodies, the previous stage on the definition scale to lean bodies, already require some physical work in the gym, a commitment to diet, and a healthy lifestyle.

Thus, answering the question of how to have a lean, defined body will require going one step further. A lean body routine is based on muscle toning along with strength exercises to cut excess fat.

If we increase the intensity of the exercises, increasing the level of the loads, the muscles are subjected to greater stress, and you get closer to the goal of bodybuilding with more volume. 

In short, it is the orientation of the loads and repetitions in a workout that determines what kind of transformation we provoke in the muscles. 

If we increase the percentage of maximum repetitions in the exercises and the time between sets, the greater the muscle growth will be. 

On the other hand, reducing the loads and recoveries, lengthening the sessions with a more aerobic component, and introducing compound sets or supersets, will work more toward definition.

To build muscle, the basic idea is not to overdo it: 30 minutes a day with a complete exercise plan that includes push-ups, squats, triceps, sit-ups, and pull-ups are enough to mobilize all muscle groups. 

Lastly, flexibility should not be overlooked, which is improved by stretching after the end of each session.

A lean muscular body is synonymous with good health since the basis for this is aerobic training and muscle toning with gym equipment and weights. All this must be accompanied by good nutrition and comforting rest.

Final Word

More or less body definition or more capacity to lift weights is something very subjective, very personal, which depends on the goal you are pursuing. The most desirable thing is to get a physique that you feel good about.

Trends, stereotypes, and canons have a lot of influence, but it is important to know the physical constitution we have and, from there, work on the final goal. At this point, it is crucial to remember that defining your physique is not the same as losing weight.

You can be at your ideal weight according to your Body Mass Index and other nutritional parameters but not have the physique you really want. If your intention is to define, the volume should be less so that the body is more toned and the muscles are more visible.


Remember that the keys that will bring you closer to that desired lean body are strength exercises, heart-healthy activity, and a balanced diet based on the intake of proteins of high biological value and without giving up carbohydrates.